Nicholsons New Associate Director: Freddie Gibbs, Head of Garden Design

I first joined Nicholsons back in the summer of 2016 on a placement year during my degree in Product Design at the University of Bournemouth. After I completed my studies, I returned as an assistant within the team and have continued to progress through different roles: Studio Manager, Garden Designer to Senior Designer, Head of Garden Design for the past 2 years and now Associate Director.

This is a dream role for me following years of mentorship by Managing Director, Liz Nicholson, and directly learning the respect, tact and flair that she brought to the role. I tried to absorb her every idea, thought or most importantly, her approach when interacting with clients. I have made great connections with architects, interior designers and look forward to further collaboration with friends in the industry to reduce carbon emissions and deliver the best outcomes for our clients.

Goals Within the New Role

There are two key goals for my new position. Firstly, I will become much more involved in the proactive marketing of who we are and sharing the positive message of the work we are doing. We work with incredibly talented external professionals and have built very successful working relationships with them.

Secondly, there will be an increasing role in our ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance). This is very much linked to the first goal, especially toward carbon reduction in our industry and supporting clients to make decisions that benefit the environment and nature. At Nicholsons, we strongly believe that if it’s good for the planet, then it should be shared, and I hope to continue to support the incredible work that Nicholsons has already achieved. I will also be more active in our charitable endeavours, community and ethical practices.

Design Philosophy

Where does a garden designer seek inspiration and clarity of purpose in a world full of creative opportunities? Although visits to RHS Chelsea gardens as well as other reputable landscapes provide innovative or historic context to garden design, visitors might not appreciate how that translates into the day-to-day of a garden designer.

The greatest inspiration can be found in our memories: what are your memorable experiences in nature and how can we emulate these in your garden?

There are a variety of factors that are key when designing for clients.

I personally believe there our four key pillars to a truly great garden:

Client Brief – This is paramount and takes centre stage in everything we do. We fundamentally understand that the garden is the clients, not ours, and should reflect their wishes and ideas. We offer guidance on nature-led design and advice on how to reduce carbon emissions through various design decisions.

Aesthetic – This is what all good designs should deliver at the core, tying together a client’s brief with style and innovation. However, our philosophy is less is more: let the garden or landscape speak for itself and don’t overcomplicate it.

Environment – This covers two bases: the first is the aesthetic environment, the vernacular of the house, local area and existing features and species. You must design with the place and space. It is a pointless endeavour to design a contemporary urban landscape for an Ironstone manor house in the Cotswold AONB. The second is the environmental credentials of the garden, again less is more. Don’t do anything you don’t have to: reduce and conserve wherever possible. We have developed our own Green Audit for Gardens and Landscapes which is used for every design. We encourage our clients to make positive changes in their gardens that benefit nature and the environment.

Budget – This is so often overlooked by other designers. At Nicholsons, we build as many landscapes as possible with a great team of contracts managers and direct labour teams. The connection to our construction teams means all our designers understand building methodology and have a direct link to our estimating team in the office. From the outset, we offer transparent estimations of what we think their plans might cost.

It’s the best feeling when we complete a garden but it’s even better five years after completion when a client shares all the memories they have made in a space you designed.

If you would like to collaborate with Freddie and his team on an upcoming project or find out more about Garden Design, click the button below.